Ed: The NFL’s back, even if some of their viewers still aren’t. This week the big game comes up against the big debate, so perhaps the league should take a page from the presidential campaigns and keep expectations low. In fact, that’s not a bad strategy for your prognosticators here, too. Last week I went 3-4 while Jazz went 5-2, and now my season record is all even at 7-7. So why am I starting the post? Someone took Saturday off for his birthday. I won’t say who, but apparently the candles on the cake set off a four-alarm fire in Jazz’ hometown. Just sayin’.
Jazz: Yes, as much as politics is trying to ruin football for everyone, I’m still watching. And it’s all the more easy to get excited when I have a pretty good week in the prognostication game. Last week’s 5-2 showing brought me back up to .500 at 7-7 so Ed and I are tied going into week 3. Our corresponding favorite teams are both on thin ice this week, but I’m still hoping for good news as a belated birthday present. And yes, Ed… I did take the day off. Even Sisyphus eventually got tired of pushing the boulder up the hill.
Ed: It’s an all-Pennsylvania game day, as the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles (CBS, 4:25 pm ET). Philly has the third-ranked defense, but Pittsburgh’s powerful O will prevail, 24-17. The Jets travel to Kansas City (CBS, 4:25 pm), where the two teams match up defensively but the Jets have a more active offense. Jets over the Chiefs, 27-19. The Vikings are undefeated, but they’re going to Carolina (Fox, 1 pm) without Adrian Peterson. Even with Sam Bradford playing a surprisingly dominant game last week in his first outing for Minnesota, the Panthers should win this home game 28-20.
Jazz:As much as it pains me to say it, I think Ed may be in for an unpleasant surprise in our first game. Yes, the Steelers are favored to win by three and a half, but does anyone here remember the last time Pittsburgh actually beat the Eagles in Philadelphia? Me neither, because it was in 1965. Carson Wentz is bringing a lot to the table for the birds and Antonio Brown put in something of a disappointing showing last week. I’m going to go with the minor upset here based on home field advantage and pick the Eagles in a 30-27 nailbiter, possibly in overtime. My Jets are also the underdogs heading to Kansas City, but the only way the Chiefs shut down Ryan Fitzpatrick is by roughing him up. Their D hasn’t been able to get within smelling distance of a QB yet this season and that won’t change today. The Jets beat the Chiefs 23-19 with another strong defensive showing. The Panthers are big favorites against the injury plagued Vikings and have the home field to boot. I’m not going to buck the conventional wisdom here, so I’ll go with Carolina in a relative slow game 24-17.
Ed: What other good games are on tap for Week 3? Let’s pick ’em:
- Broncos at Bengals (CBS, 1 pm) – Cincy’s favored in this matchup, but Denver’s defense has been pretty impressive so far. The Broncos score more points per game than the Bengals, too. Denver wins a mild upset, 27-17.
- Lions at Packers (Fox, 1 pm) – Green Bay comes into the game with the 29th-ranked offense. That’s with Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, and their receiver corps healthy, too. What gives? Detroit’s outscoring them 27/20.5 per game, but Green Bay’s defense is 5.5 points per game better — and they’re at home this week. I’ll take the Pack over the Lions, 26-21.
- Bears at Cowboys (NBC, 8:30 pm) – Da Bears have had a rough start, but the Cowboys have played tough in both of their games. Chicago’s offense comes in next to last in the league, but it’s defense is ranked ninth overall. In points allowed, though, it’s 24th, while Dallas’ is 14th. Take the ‘Boys to beat the spread at home, 28-17.
- Falcons at Saints (ESPN, 8:30 pm Monday) – Not interested in watching the debate? Tune in this division rivalrly, but the only stakes in this game is whether the Saints can keep from becoming the Aints. New Orleans is looking for its first win of the season, while Atlanta comes into the week with a share of the lead at 1-1. The Saints have given up four fewer points per game, but Atlanta’s offense has scored six more points per game. Still, the Saints are playing at home and their backs are up against the wall, so I’ll go with the spread and pick New Orleans with a 27-24 win. Just don’t ask me to make a pick in the debate.
- Broncos at Bengals (CBS, 1 pm) – I’m still a little ticked off at the Bengals because of week one and they go into this game favored by a field goal. But Cincinnati’s offense has been totally one sided. Their two main running backs have less than 100 yards between them over two games so they win or lose on Andy Dalton’s back. His shoulders won’t be that broad today so I’ll join Ed in taking the upset, but by a meager 17-14 Denver spread.
- Lions at Packers (Fox, 1 pm) – Why are we picking this game again? The Pack is fired up and healthy at home while the Lions are losing players to medical retreats faster than tourists in a Zika swamp. I’ll go with Green Bay 28-17.
- Bears at Cowboys (NBC, 8:30 pm) – The Cowboys always mange to jinx me but the Bears have looked simply awful. The 1-1 record put up by Dallas isn’t much to brag about, but they’ll have enough to send da Bears to da bunker outside the margin, 28-14.
- Falcons at Saints (ESPN, 8:30 pm Monday) – The Saints may be the favorite by a field goal, but Atlanta has more than enough weapons to be a dangerous and unpredictable opponent this year. The combination of Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman can put plenty of points on the board, so I see New Orleans heading into a dismal 0-3 start. I’ll pick another upset here and take Atlanta with a big win 38-24.